Someone Great and abandoning the happy ending

The latest rom-com from Netflix, starring Gina Rodriguez and Lakeith Stanfield, isn’t trying to be revolutionary and that’s part of the magic.
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Someone Great / Netflix

At first, it doesn’t seem action-packed, but somehow five minutes into Netflix’s newest romantic comedy, Someone Great, protagonist Jenny Young is crying in a subway terminal while staring at a Polaroid of her and her new ex-boyfriend, Nate. The premise, in which Jenny is moving to San Francisco for her dream job as a music journalist, and Nate breaks up with her so as to not do long distance, sets up the story to be unlike many in its cluttered genre.

However, in the following scene, when her best friends find out that Jenny’s 9-year relationship just ended, it becomes clear: this is one of those stories where the true love was with your friends all along.

Starring Gina Rodriguez, DeWanda Wise, Lakeith Stanfield, and Brittany Snow, Someone Great gives viewers a glimpse into unwavering female friendship without trying to be a game-changer.

“Girl gang” movies & their importance

From Crossroads to Bridesmaids, girl gang movies have defined female friendship in a way that is messy, endearing, and at times, pretty gross.

Still, they usually have the same basic premise: a protagonist with a dysfunctional love life who relies on her friends for help and unconditional love. There’s something romantic in the way the friendship is depicted: the women know each other so completely as friends that the love interest in the film doesn’t really matter.

In Someone Great, this concept is presented head-on. Erin and Blair, Jenny’s best friends, know the music she listens to when she’s going through a break-up. They know what she’s thinking about when she spaces out. And they accept her, regardless of whatever ridiculous thing she’s doing to give herself closure.

As with nearly all romcoms, movies that focus on the “girl gang” trope are viewed as chick flicks, movies that lack intellectual thought because they focus on love and, more importantly, on the lives of women.

And that’s precisely what makes Someone Great so important. Even when it’s girly and melodramatic, it’s telling a story that most women can relate to, and is doing so in a deliberately honest way. You’re meant to feel like Jenny even if you’ve never been in her shoes. You’re meant to cry with her.

This isn’t a new concept, but it comes at a time when people are starting to open their eyes about the importance of these films, particularly with the knowledge that many of them are timeless.

Abandoning the happy ending

The movie ends simply: a monologue in a subway car, a daydream while asleep on the side of the fountain at Washington Square Park, and three friends walking away together, arm in arm as the sun rises above Manhattan.

The thing that makes Something Great magical is that Jenny doesn’t end up with Nate in the end. She’s still moving to San Francisco. There’s no big reunion between the romantic leads. In a movie shrouded in flashbacks, the end is a step to the future, and a more realistic conclusion than a reunion would have been.

No, Jenny does not get her happy ending with Nate, and she isn’t supposed to. What is revealed instead is that there was never a need for a happy ending. She’s always had her friends.

And that’s what makes the film drastically different than that of the other movies in the genre. By abandoning the idea of the big romantic reveal and replacing it with the realization that true love was there all along, Someone Great changes the game without trying to.

While the movie is about romantic love and the loss of it, it’s also so much more. It’s about unwavering friendship even when it’s messy, and that’s the true love Jenny finds at the end of the film. While her breakup stings, it’s not the end of the world.

If you’re looking for a good cry, a pre-game montage to the tune of Lil’ Kim, and a hilarious RuPaul cameo, stream Someone Great on Netflix.

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